Having the mind of a writer with ADHD sort of sets you apart from people who view life as, well, just life. My writer brain sees everything as a potential article, due in part to my offbeat sense of humor. I carry a small notebook so I can jot down a writing idea before it flies out of my head almost as soon as it originated. Catch and release. That’s the ADHD butting into my head. It’s not unusual for me to rummage around my purse during a conversation, only to produce a withered receipt or an empty Splenda packet to write on because I forgot my notebook. Any available scrap of paper becomes a valuable resource. The problem is, once I find that receipt or empty sweetener packet, my thoughts immediately shift to wondering whether I deducted that debit receipt and what happened to the Splenda that once filled the empty packet. Did I eat it? The contents of my purse then jump out like fleas and land on the nearest available surface so I can search for the mystery Splenda I know is coating the bottom of my purse. I’ll look up to find the conversation halted and several sets of concerned eyes staring at me. Since any explanation would defy logic, I offer none.
After writing my first article about my ADHD, I learned of many writers who share this annoying brain affliction. Since writing requires sitting, I find it ironic that any of us are able to stay still long enough to get any real writing done. See, when God made butts for folks, mine arrived pimped out with an attached Tigger-like spring, enabling me to hop up from a chair multiple times a day, but also making it near impossible for me to sit for any length of time. Since I began writing this article, I’ve been out of my chair more times than I can count. Even worse, I forgot the purpose of the trip upon reaching my destination, returned to my desk where a fleeting memory struck me, and the whole exercise repeated itself, each time with a new objective. Maybe I‘ll burn off that Twinkie I ate for breakfast. As a result, any article in progress eats up three hours of my morning instead of one. The same scenario takes place during movies, church services, or any type of meeting I’m forced to attend. I don’t receive many wedding or graduation invitations anymore. Weird.
Since the ADHD/writer mind generates a gazillion ideas, the number of writing projects we dream up should keep us busy for years to come, generating millions of dollars in residuals. A chalkboard and dry-erase board occupy the wall behind my desk. Both boards are littered with writing ideas. Should I deplete the supply on the wall, I can refer to my handy dandy notebooks (once I find them), where more potential Pulitzer-winning ideas abound. And there’s bound to be a gum wrapper buried in my purse with some little goody written on it.
The reality is that ADHDers tend to either begin projects that never reach completion, or we don’t start them at all. Ask me how many chapters I’ve written of the novel I began last year. I think I broke for a lunch break and a passing garbage truck caught my eye, sparking an idea to write about recycling. I probably went to my desk to write it down and saw new email in my inbox. Not one to wait, I read the mail, typed a few responses, and roamed around the Internet for a few minutes. And so on.
People with ADHD often feel like underachievers in life. Why so many of us are writers is interesting, since breaking into a writing market today is like becoming the next “American Idol” winner. A person may be a talented writer, but competition is fierce, and very few ever achieve fame. In a way it’s self-inflicted torture. Many of us write for the sheer love of writing, though we’d likely be lying if we said thoughts of publication aren’t fighting for space in the backs of our minds. If I could just gain access to that space I might find the expensive earrings I lost, the CD I bought a few weeks ago that vaporized, my kids’ shot records, the cat’s collar, and the list of errands that didn’t get done today because I got sidetracked and decided to write instead.